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How the shutdown could burn the GOP in 2014
A new survey shows that Republicans could pay at the polls if this government shutdown continues
 
Representatives such as Meehan may find re-election tough in the wake of the shutdown.
Representatives such as Meehan may find re-election tough in the wake of the shutdown. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

As the government shutdown enters its second week, neither Democrats or Republicans are backing down.

The GOP has tied the debt ceiling battle with the fight over the federal spending bill and ObamaCare. President Barack Obama has responded by saying that he won't negotiate with "a gun held to the head of the American people."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) stood his ground on Sunday, telling ABC's This Week that Republicans weren't "going to pass a 'clean' debt-limit increase" without "additional concessions from Democrats."

That leaves an impasse that could last through mid-October, when the U.S. government is expected to hit its borrowing limit — an event that could have severe economic consequences, possibly sending us into another recession.

Polls show most people hate the government shutdown. They also blame the GOP. House Republicans don't care, the popular narrative goes, because many of them are in safely conservative districts where the only threats come from the right.

A new poll might cause the GOP to rethink its strategy. A survey ordered up by the liberal group MoveOn.org and conducted by Public Policy Polling shows that 17 Republican representatives would fall to a generic Democratic opponent if an election were held today. While only 24 Republican-held seats were surveyed, these districts are all considered battlegrounds for 2014.

The number of seats needed by Democrats to win the House: 17. When the poll mentioned specifically that certain Republicans favored the government shutdown, an additional four seats were in danger.

Unsurprisingly, Republicans in moderate districts have the most to lose. California's Gary Miller, New York's Chris Gibson, and Colorado's Michael Coffman are just a few of the lawmakers who could face tough re-election battles if this thing drags on.

The poll also showed that Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) should be prepared for a fight, which is probably why he has being speaking out against the shutdown since the beginning.

"I came to Washington to fix government, not shut it down," Meehan told Politico last week. "At this point, I believe it's time for the House to vote for a clean, short-term funding bill to bring the Senate to the table and negotiate a responsible compromise."

In the lead-up to the shutdown, ObamaCare was polling poorly. Only 42 percent of Americans supported the law in late September, which, along with President Obama's low approval rating, should have made the issue a winner for the GOP, wrote The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza. But, he adds, they might have screwed up everything:

Simply put: ObamaCare has the potential to be a terrific political issue for Republicans — both with their base and among independents — in 2014. But, by focusing so heavily on linking defunding it to shutting down the government, the party is taking an issue that should be a stone-cold winner and making it, at least potentially, much less powerful. [The Washington Post]

And that was written before this latest poll showing that House Republicans are vulnerable. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already launched robocalls in 63 districts blaming Republican lawmakers for the shutdown.

"This is a great first step to building the narrative and showing real life consequences to voters next fall for why Republicans aren't up to the job," Democratic strategist Travis Lowe told MSNBC.

Republicans in the House aren't the only ones who are worried. Yesterday, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) appeared on Fox News and put the blame for the shutdown squarely on his own party.

On Saturday night in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor, awkwardly avoided having his photo taken with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), whose 21-hour "filibuster" made him the face of the government shutdown.

Virginia, of course, borders Washington, D.C., meaning a lot of those 800,000 furloughed federal workers will be voting either for Cuccinelli or former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe in November.

"This couldn't come at a worse time for Cuccinelli," former Congressman Tom Davis (R-Va.) told Bloomberg. "You're getting a group that ordinarily isn't engaged in a statewide election engaged, because they're going to be angry and they don't want to wait until 2014 to take it out on a politician."

Now, not only is the shutdown jeopardizing their chances of retaking the Senate, Republicans have to worry about retaining control of the House, not to mention winning a few governor's races.

 
Keith Wagstaff is a staff writer at TheWeek.com covering politics and current events. He has previously written for such publications as TIME, Details, VICE, and the Village Voice.

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